The Buzz Williams era begins tonight in Blacksburg as the Hokies take on University Maryland Eastern Shore at 7:00pm in Cassell Coliseum. HokieNation doesn't really know what to expect out of this years squad and neither do I. One thing that I can be sure of is that this team will play hard for 40 minutes and if something isn't working then Buzz will make a change. No more complacent, play not to lose, attitude in Blacksburg, folks.
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Virginia Tech is coming off of its the worst season in nearly 60 years having only won 9 games. However, this team returns two players that I thought really played well last year in Joey Van Zegeren and Devin Wilson. JVZ and Wilson will most likely be joined in the starting lineup by Adam Smith, Ahmed Hill and Shane Henry. Smith showed flashes last season, especially in his 20+ point performance against Michigan State. Hill is a talent freshmen that followed Buzz from Marquette to Blacksburg and a player that probably has the most potential out of all of players on the roster. Shane Henry is an interesting player that loves to play above the rim on defense and offense. He is a slim 6-8 forward who will look to use his athleticism to make up for a lack of strength inside.
The Hawks are under first-year head coach Bobby Collins and do not return a single starter from a year ago. This years team will be led by Michael Myers and Devin Martin, two talented players that can score the basketball. The Hawks recently opened their schedule with an exhibition win (70-51) against D-III Salisbury College. Bobby Collins' squad shot 55% from the field, 41 % from 3, but only 49% from the free-throw line. UMES is a member of the MEAC and finished last season with a record of 6-24 prompting a coaching change and immediate upgrade in talent level.
I expect this game to be a little slow to begin with as both teams try to figure out who and what they are over the first 20 minutes. However, look for the Hokies to take advantage of their mismatches on the wings and in transition as UMES is rated as one of the worst transition defensive teams in the country by Ken Pomeroy.
Prediction: Hokies: 80 UMES: 59
A few players to watch off of the bench for the Hokies is Malik Mueller, Jusitn Bibbs and Jalen Hudson. These three first-year players had great prep careers and have a knack for scoring the basketball.
The season is here and it is sure to be up and down, but the change HokieNation wanted has been delivered, which has this fan base truly excited.